WASHINGTON, D.C. -- America's soldiers, sailors, airmen, Guardsmen and Marines are in near-constant combat against brutal, committed adversaries. Yet, in nine trips to Iraq and Afghanistan covering U.S. military operations for FOX News since 2001, I've never seen our troops bested in battle. But it turns out that not all the fights are on foreign soil, and sometimes the outcome depends on unusual allies. Last month, on March 6, the Supreme Court handed our Armed Forces a major victory when it ruled in Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights that colleges accepting federal funds had to permit military recruiters access to campus. Unfortunately, that's not the only battle that needs to be fought and won on the home front.
While preparing a documentary on the medical treatment our wounded warriors receive, a representative of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) told me that while health care and rehabilitation for those who have been injured has vastly improved since the Vietnam era -- the "real scandal is how many veterans of this war are unemployed." I initially thought he was referring to those who had been injured by enemy fire -- but he quickly educated me: "You don't have to be wounded in action to be 'unemployable.' Just to have served in this war makes it tougher to get a job."
Unfortunately, he's right. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the national unemployment rate is hovering around 4.8 percent. But for veterans of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), the unemployment rate is more than three times higher -- 15.6 percent. Why?
Part of the answer is found in the fact that so few corporate executives and personnel managers are veterans themselves. Couple that with a drumbeat of adverse publicity about the war, a mainstream media fixation on military "atrocities" and the constant harping about post-traumatic stress disorder -- PTSD -- and one has to wonder how any war veteran gets hired. On a recent flight to Texas, my seatmate, a corporate CEO, asked if "all the troops coming back from 'over there' were 'screwed up.'" He cited a study alleging that, "more than a third of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan needed psychological treatment." The actual number -- according to the American Medical Association -- is 35 percent -- a figure compiled by psychiatrists who have made diagnosing PTSD a self-employment program.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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